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CBS Inks Mixed Martial Arts Content Deal

As expected, CBS will jump into the mixed martial arts ring when it televises four ProElite Inc.-distributed MMA events a year as part of a multi-year agreement between the two parties.

The deal calls for CBS to air four live, Saturday night events beginning in late April or early May from ProElite’s Elite XC MMA franchise, a partnership between the MMA company and CBS sister cable service Showtime. The pay TV company will continue to air Elite XC shows and distribute the franchise’s pay-per-view events.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Additionally, CBS and ProElite will collaborate on generating interactive content such as streaming of events and clips for both CBSSports.com and ProElite.com

“Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and a wildly popular entertainment vehicle for upscale, young adult audiences,” said CBS Primetime senior executive vice president Kelly Kahl in a statement. “It’s original programming for Saturday night; it’s live, creating an event-atmosphere; and it’s something that hasn’t been seen on network television, until now.”

“This is a pivotal moment for the sport of mixed martial arts now that a major television network plans to broadcast live MMA events during primetime hours,” said Douglas DeLuca, Chief Executive Officer of ProElite. “We are delighted to enhance our partnership with CBS to bring American audiences the very best in MMA competition through our EliteXC brand.”

Mixed martial arts is a sport evolved from a number of ancient combat disciplines including judo, jiu-jitsu, karate, wrestling and kickboxing. The intense nature of the contests and the theatrical elements of its live events have made mixed martial arts one of the fastest growing spectator sports in the United States. Over the last several years, the genre has seen tremendous growth in popularity, especially among the coveted 18-34 demographic.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.